Hey entrepreneurs, Ask Me Anything on how to make your brand Behave Boldly!

Elise Russell
Mar 7, 2018

Having a great brand can open doors for you that you wouldn't otherwise be able to open for yourself. My company, Pony Friday, has opened some pretty awesome doors for me—doors I wouldn't have even thought to knock on when I first started.

Many small business owners and solo-preneurs don't see the value of investing in marketing. It's usually the last place they put their money and the first budget to be cut when times are tough.

Stepping out to promote your business can feel daunting, especially if your brand image is nothing to be proud of. You and your business are two separate entities and need to be treated that way.

Your brand plays a big part in whether you fail or succeed. It's time to behave boldly!

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What afre some easy ways to make a tech company seem more friendly and simple?

Mar 8, 2:39AM EST0

Use the right language. The best communication is to keep it conversational and talk the way people actually talk. Most companies write messaging in technical ways and forget about who might be reading their website.

Mar 8, 9:42AM EST0

Have you done any motivational genre videos to promote the brand? Youtube is full of amazing videos that get lots of views.

Mar 7, 10:10AM EST0

Great question/comment/advice! We’re currently working in this direction and hope to be part of this rodeo soon.

Mar 7, 10:55AM EST0

What are your thoughts on domain names and how important are they in marketing?

Mar 7, 9:37AM EST0

In an ideal world you want to get the domain name that exactly matches your business name. It makes it easier for people to find you and helps your SEO. If you can’t get it, try to use your tagline or vision to help you come up with something you’ll want to keep for years to come.

You want everything to feel as natural as possible and be as easy to find as possible. Our company is Pony Friday and our domain name is ponyfriday.com and our social media handles are @ponyfriday. That’s ideal. Strive for that kind of consistency.

Tip: When working on naming a new company it’s smart to check to see if the URL and social handles are available so you can make a more informed decision.

Mar 7, 10:24AM EST0

So.. what's the story with the name?

Mar 7, 9:22AM EST0

I’m copying and pasting this one from the Pony Friday about page:

Isn’t it obvious? It's a name that screams "super fun times" and we liked the sound of it. Everyone loves ponies and we all live in anticipation of the next Friday—together they represent the best possible combination. And we truly believe that every day can feel like a Pony Friday!

Besides loving our name because it’s fun and captures everything we stand for, there is a back story on where it came from. If you want to know how that idea popped up you’ll have to hear our founder’s talk.

Mar 7, 10:53AM EST0

Can you share an experience where brand building played a major part and worked well for your client?

Mar 7, 9:17AM EST0

The client work I’ve done is confidential and I need to be respectful of that—in broad strokes I can say that I’ve seen clients experience increased membership growth, more pride and confidence in promoting their brand, higher click-through rates and better market traction.

My personal experience with Pony Friday has made cold calling easier, it has allowed us to get into conferences and markets, made it easier to hire staff and has created a magnetic pull of interest toward what we’re up to.

Fact: I was flown to another city to speak at a conference before I even had a video to prove that I was any good at talking. That’s the power of a good brand.

Mar 7, 11:09AM EST0

How do you create loyal brand fans who'll promote your company for you?

Mar 6, 6:05PM EST0

This is the holy grail of brand building. If you can get this right, nothing will stand in your way.

My thoughts… give them an unforgettable experience, provide an incredible product or service, and make them feel something. It’s about creating connections—your brand should be making friends.

Ask yourself what kind of friends you want to have—or maybe ask yourself what kind of friends you deserve to have based on the kind of friend you are.

Pony Friday is the friend that kicks you in the ass and reminds you that there isn’t a single excuse good enough for you to stop chasing your dreams. Everything we do is about helping others Behave Boldly!

Mar 6, 11:33PM EST0
What are some of the avenues you have taken to promote Pony Friday and which of these strategies have been the most successful, and why?
Mar 6, 8:34AM EST0

People love to have a more personal connection, especially when they’re discovering something ahead of their friends. Seeing someone in concert or discovering a new boutique is always better in person. You get to be part of that energy in real life.

I’m going to rank the Pony Friday top three promotional platforms like their athletes competing for the win:

Gold: When I speak to audiences about our brand story and share some of my personal struggles as an entrepreneur it gives people the best opportunity to connect with us at a deeper level. You can hear me talk here: Elise Russell, Behave Boldly

Silver: Having pop-up shops for our merchandise at markets and events gives customers the opportunity to linger and ask questions about who we are and what we do. It’s fun to watch shoppers walk past because they all read our sign and say, “Pony Friday” aloud as they go by. It’s good to have a name that’s memorable and makes people curious. You can shop here: Pony Friday Store

Bronze: Our bootcamps are the newest addition to our offering and have allowed us to share more of our marketing and branding knowledge with other entrepreneurs. It’s tough to beat something this high value for promoting your brand—it's incredible having happy bootcamp grads sharing their experience and giving testimonials.

At the moment our Behave Boldly Bootcamps are designed for entrepreneurs—they’re very exclusive and we’re currently looking at ways to bring this online so you don’t have to be local to take advantage of this powerful learning. You can read more about our bootcamps here: Behave Boldly Bootcamp

Mar 6, 11:16PM EST0
How can a business establish whether the marketing channels they are using are up-to-date?
Mar 5, 10:17PM EST0

Hire a consultant to do a quick assessment of what you’re doing. If you want to play marketing detective for yourself, think about it this way: if it’s working for you it’s likely still relevant.

Let’s take websites as an example, there are still businesses without websites or businesses with websites that don’t adjust to different screen sizes. If you have a website that isn’t mobile friendly it’s not up-to-date.

Email marketing has changed, sales funnels have evolved and direct mail is still a great option for some businesses. Keep learning and trying things to find what works best for you.

Tip: Ask for help from an expert.

Mar 6, 10:44PM EST0
How has Pony Friday made certain that the online world knows that it is a reputable and trusted company?
Mar 5, 5:43PM EST0

This isn't something we've worried about. It's like anything else, you're building a reputation on a daily basis—and some people trust you and others don't. I really don't have any advice to offer in this area other than be authentic, follow through on what you said you would do and be gracious when you fail.

Mar 6, 3:10PM EST0
In what ways does business website optimizing for search engines benefit a business?
Mar 5, 5:16PM EST0

The most basic explanation is that it makes your business easier to find when people search for it online and gives you a better search ranking when people search for similar types of businesses. Whether your business needs SEO or not is up to you or your marketing experts.

This article from Kayak Online Marketing might help, it’s on the yes or no of SEO: Does Your Business Actually Need SEO?

Mar 6, 3:46PM EST0

What are some of the ways a small business owner can ensure that they have developed a goal-orientated marketing strategy?

Mar 5, 4:05PM EST0

Bring it back to your vision. Is your marketing strategy aligned with your vision? Are the steps you’re taking getting you closer to achieving your vision? You need to be fluid in your approach because some of the things you try won’t work as well as you’d hoped and others will surprise you.

Tip 1: You want the entire team to be on the same page. Keep regrouping with your team to ensure that everyone knows what the vision is. This way you can crush your goals together.

Tip 2: Make sure you have a vision that your team wants to work toward. If not, change your vision or change your team.

Mar 6, 9:41PM EST0

Overall, is activism good or bad for a company's image? How progressive should a business ideally be on social issues?

Mar 2, 8:30PM EST0

This would depend on the type business and what it stands for and it depends on how you would get involved. Sometimes it makes sense and sometimes is doesn’t—usually it doesn’t. I’d recommend not letting the personal agendas of the founders get in the way of the business objectives.

Mar 5, 2:26PM EST0
What are some best practices you can share when coming up with a company’s branding?
Mar 2, 6:38PM EST0

Try to stay authentic to who your brand is and what you represent as a company. That likely means having a good idea of your target audience and defining your brand personality. The more detail you can give the better.

It's easy to get confused by what you would do as an individual and what you should do as a company. Once you’ve taken the time to figure out the difference, stay on brand.

Mar 5, 2:22PM EST0
Have you ever thought of establishing more than just one business?
Mar 2, 12:41PM EST0

Definitely a great idea. My bandwidth is currently maxed out, but I do have a couple other irons in the fire to help diversify my personal income and learn different skills.

Pony Friday has an assortment of different layers that keep things interesting and push my personal growth. You should take a look at the Talks section of our site, peruse the Store and enjoy some reading on our three blogs: KicksStudio, and Wise Words.

Mar 2, 12:58PM EST0

Do you believe that digital marketing is not stronger than traditional marketing?

Mar 2, 10:48AM EST0

I love both digital and traditional marketing. They both serve different purposes and together they can be a great combo. I know people who are doing away with business cards, yet I still meet people who have saved my business card from when I met them a few years ago.

You want to use the right platform for the job and do it really well so it stands out. Think about what you're trying to achieve and then decide the best vehicle to communicate your message.

Mar 6, 3:27PM EST0
What’s the Pony Friday business all about?
Mar 2, 3:47AM EST0

Behave Boldly!

We’re a motivational lifestyle brand. Yeah, we totally made that up to suit our vision and it's the most accurate way to describe what we do, because we help people step up their game and believe in themselves. Really it’s about helping people give themselves permission to lead the lives they dream about living.

Here are some of the ways we do that:

The Pony Friday motto: Chase down your dreams like they’re already yours!

Mar 6, 11:47PM EST0
Are you a full-time entrepreneur?
Mar 2, 2:33AM EST0

You bet I am!

Mar 2, 12:47PM EST0
Have you considered hiring freelancers? If you do, what’s the experience like?
Mar 1, 7:33PM EST0

I have a collection of part-time employees that help me with everything. Freelancers are great and every small business should take advantage of the different skills they can hire for pockets of time. I find having an ongoing relationship with my people better for how we operate because it’s easier for them to stay invested in the vision and feel like they’re part of the growth.

Mar 1, 11:16PM EST0
If given the chance to improve the branding of any company, what would it be and what changes would you make?
Mar 1, 5:07PM EST0

I try not to think too hard about what other people are doing, and investing my time thinking about how I could improve another brand takes away from focusing on my own brand building. Now, if they want to hire me as a brand consultant I’m sure I’d have something to say.

Tip: Use your energy on your own stuff and be on watch for things that are a waste your time. Distractions hold you back. Improve what’s under your nose before worrying about what’s across the street.

Mar 6, 3:33PM EST0
How does a great entrepreneur manage his time?
Mar 1, 9:51AM EST0

This is the question of all questions! I don't claim to be a great entrepreneur, and time management perfection is likely best left to the gods and goddesses—we mortals can only dream about time management perfection.

You can find plenty of different time management philosophies on these sites:

FastCompany.com

INC.com

Entrepreneur.com

My time management is a woven strategy where I work from home and weave everything together in a very organic way. I know other entrepreneurs that need to physically leave their homes and go to an office to work. I can simply walk down the hall.

Commuting always felt like a waste of time to me and eliminating that created a more relaxed approach to how I work. In the summertime, I can work outside on my deck, walk around barefoot and feel like I'm on vacation. Truthfully, I pretend my deck is a yacht and that I’m working in the caribbean somewhere—having an imagination is a wonderful thing.

Tips for managing your time like I do:

  • Prioritize yourself—without apology.
  • Say no to anything and everything that doesn’t create value—be prepared for that to include clients, family members and friends.
  • Use your most creative hours of the day to work on your own stuff, not client work.
  • Offer favours sparingly—other people love to spend your time so start watching for that.
  • Charge more for your time so you can increase your productivity and value.
  • Ask for help and learn to delegate.
  • Take breaks whenever you need them—crushing it is easier with energy.
  • Make sure you eat well and stay hydrated.
  • Define what hustling means to you—I hustle in moderation.
  • Stay positive and always be on the hunt for solutions.

Remember, this is your life and being an entrepreneur is a brave path that few people truly understand. Own it!

Mar 1, 11:09AM EST0
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